Originally from a French poem Roman de Fauvel, written in the early 1300s; Fauvel was a conniving stallion, and the play was a satire on the corruption of social life. The name Fauvel points to the French fauve (“chestnut, reddish-yellow, or fawn”), another sense of fauve meaning the class of wild animals whose coats are at least partly brown, and the medieval belief that a fallow horse was a symbol of deceit and dishonesty. The phrase curry Fauvel, then, referred to currying (“combing”) the horse, and was altered (as folk etymology) by later speakers to curry favor.
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- (idiomatic) To seek to gain favor by flattery or attention.
- 1871–1872, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter XVIII, in Middlemarch […], volumes (please specify |volume=I to IV), Edinburgh, London: William Blackwood and Sons, →OCLC, book (please specify |book=I to VIII):
- Other people would say so, and would allege that he was currying favor with Bulstrode for the sake of making himself important and getting on in the world.
- 1917, Upton Sinclair, The Profits of Religion […] :
- And what of those thousands and tens of thousands who join the church because it is a part of the regime of respectability, a way to make the acquaintance of the rich, to curry favor and obtain promotion, to get customers if you are a tradesman, to extend your practice if you are a professional man?
- 2017 October 2, Julia Ioffe, Franklin Foer, “Did Manafort Use Trump to Curry Favor With a Putin Ally?”, in The Atlantic:
- [T]he full text of these exchanges, provided to The Atlantic, shows that Manafort attempted to leverage his leadership role in the Trump campaign to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
- 2019 May 5, Danette Chavez, “Campaigns are Waged On and Off the Game Of Thrones Battlefield (Newbies)”, in The A.V. Club, archived from the original on 28 January 2021:
- Unlike Sansa, Daenerys can’t rely on her family name to curry favor; unlike Jon or even Arya, she can’t regale the Northerners with tales of exploits, though that’s probably for the best when it comes to her “liberating” Yunkai and Meereen.
- Michael Quinion (2004), “Curry favor”, in Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds: Ingenious Tales of Words and Their Origins, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books in association with Penguin Books, →ISBN.
- “curry favor”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–present.
- Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “curry”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.